Leeds’s transport bosses must put better, greener buses at the heart of their planning – and must penalise the worst-polluting cars first – to stand any chance of bringing air pollution back to safe levels.
That’s the conclusion of a major new study by national transport campaign Greener Journeys.
Leeds is one of five cities ordered by the Government to introduce a Clean Air Zone by 2020.
In his report for Greener Journeys, Professor David Begg, who is a former chairman of the Government’s Commission for Integrated Transport, says that clean air zones will not be successful if they stop short of penalising high-polluting diesel cars, focusing instead on buses, lorries, taxis and vans.
And he calls on Leeds City Council to “put the bus at the centre” of its strategy.
The recommendations come as the Government launches a public consultation on its new draft Air Quality Plan. The plans have been criticised amid claims they do not include any concrete measures to tackle air pollution, instead passing the buck to local authorities.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, the council’s Executive Member for Environment and Sustainability, said: “We have recently come to an agreement with First for them to provide 284 new buses that will meet – as a minimum – Euro 6 air quality standards that will reduce NOx emissions by close to 90 per cent. We’ll be seeking similar agreements from the other bus companies in Leeds.”